21 May 2012

From Hospital to Mission Field: Nicaraguan Medical Mission

Patient arrives on makeshift stretcher

Miraculous recovery a few days later

During a recent mission trip to Nicaragua, I saw how quickly basic nursing skills could be used when there are no modern machines to use.  In February after arrival in Nicaragua, we spent the night in the capital. The following day was spent traveling; five hours in a microbus, 1 ½ hr ride down the river to Sabalos in a small ponga (boat) and in the dark a small Toyota pick up to travel another 1.5 hours on rocky, bumpy, and washed out roads.  The flat bridges were also a challenge; you could hear the boards bouncing around under the truck.  The next day we held our first clinic and saw about 125 people, giving them pain meds, vitamins, parasite treatment and antibiotics as needed

The second clinic day a family came in carrying a woman on a stretcher made from small trees tied together.  We learned they had walked five hours to get to Las Marvellous to see us. We moved the patient to a bench as she was experiencing head pain and was trying to avoid movement.  I worried whether she could survive the trip to the hospital that we had traveled a few days earlier.  

Clinical findings included two large (3cm) fluid filled sacs, a rash from her ear across her face just past her nose, and peeling skin around her nose.  A quick touch let me know she was febrile.  I gave her a gram of oral Tylenol.  Then the Drs. started her on a Zpak.  I did an I&D (incision and drainage) on the fluid filled cyst, and taught her husband how to apply Triple Antibiotic Cream twice a day.  Our Nicaraguan Dr. Mirtilla wanted to see her for a day or so to make sure she was getting better.  She felt that the infection had started in her ear, and was spreading throughout her head.  The family did not have a place to stay so the local pastor took her in.  I gave the husband a few dollars for food and by noon our patient was able to
walk next door to the pastor's home.

The following day, she was moving normally, was pain free, and afebrile.  Her husband attended the Community Based Health class and received tools and information to take home to be a healthcare worker in their little village.  One day later they began their 5-hour walk home.

Every trip I make to Nicaragua there are people in need.  I remember a two-week-old baby unable to nurse due to an infection.  We obtained formula, liquid antibiotic and infant tylenol that we administered via a dropper, since the baby could not suckle.   A month later we were sent a picture of a fat sassy baby.  Our basic skills can make a big difference for people with such basic needs.  I am thankful for the skills that I’ve developed over my 32 years of nursing, and that I can take them into underserved areas.

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